The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Confederate Williams Gun

From the May-June Confederate Veteran Magazine.

I'd never heard of a Confederate Williams gun, but there in the photo section on page 39, there was a photo of one. One mighty strange-looking cannon. The caption read:

Members of Schoolfield's Battery from the Myers-Zollicoffer Camp 1990, Livingston, Tn, man their Williams gun at the dedication of the Tennessee Civil War Trails monument for the "Affair of Cumberland Mountain," located in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee.

Wikipedia had this to say about the gun. It was classified as a 1-lb. cannon and designed by D.R. Williams of Covington, Kentucky. They were breech-loading, rapid-fire cannons operated by a hand-turned crank. The barrel was 4 feet long, 1.57 inch caliber.

Approximately 40 were made at three places in Virgina and Alabama and sent to seven different Confederate batteries. Four were captured at the end of the war and sent to West Point, where one was retained and the others sent elsewhere. Examples of the Williams Gun are located in two other places.

It was not considered to be very effective.

Never Heard of It. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Your Confederate Money

Like the old guy said, "Save your Cinfederate money."

From the September 21st "Rare Confederate Tome Discovered" by Fred L. Reed III. Originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.

A sixth example of a rare original 1880 Register of Confederate Debt" by Raphael P. Thian has been found in a library where it had been the last 53 years.

The Rare Book Room of the Virginia Historical Society has had it ever since it bought it back in 1958. It was part of an acquisition of historical works from a prominent Richmond attorney.

Before it was discovered, there were only five known copies of it covering the Confederacy's funded and unfunded debt, plus an enumeration of most treasury notes.

I doubt that I would read the book, but it is of interest, especially since I saw the collection of Confederate money at the Grand Army of the Republic Museum in Springfield, Illinois, a few weeks ago.

Like They Said.... --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A North Carolinian Designed the Confederacy's First National Flag?-- Part 3

From the May-June 2011 Confederate Veteran Magazine.

The First National flag is probably the least known of all three of the national ones. It is the real Stars and Bars, not the more numerous rectangular ones with the southern cross (actually the Confederate Navy Jack).

After the war, Orren Smith lived in Henderson, NC and was active in Confederate veteran affairs, giving speeches at UCV gatherings and serving as the model for the flag-bearer for North Carolina's Gettysburg statue. This would explain why I kept coming up with that statue when I typed in his name and flag.

On November 10, 1910, the Henderson Confederate monument was dedicated. Almost 160 veterans showed up and Smith had the seat of honor at the ceremony. He had even authored the inscription on it, "Our Confederate dead, peace to their ashes, honor to their memory, glory to their cause."

He died at Henderson on March 13, 1913.

Never Knew About Him. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A North Carolinian Designed the Confederacy's First National Flag?-- Part 2

With the coming of the war, Orren Smith joined the 3rd NC Artillery which for most of its duty was scattered at various forts in the Cape Fear Defensive system for Wilmington, NC. These forts kept the port open for blockade runners during the war and were constructed before and during the war from Bald Head to the city.

The 3rd was organized at Bald Head, on Smith Island in November 1863, mainly from artillery companies organized in 1861 and 1862.

Fort Caswell was a brick structure built from 1826 to 1936 guarding Old Inlet. Fort Anderson was an earthwork constructed on the site of the pre-Revolutionary port of Brunswick, farther up the river. Forts Fisher, Campbell and Holmes were earthen forts constructed during the war.

Smith, at one time or another, may have served in one or all of these defensive positions. As of yet, I have not found out anything about Orren Smith around Wilmington, but am looking.

By 1865, after the fall of Fort Fisher and during the Wilmington campaign, the 3rd Artillery was converted into the 40th Regiment North Carolina Troops (since they no longer had cannons to man). They became a part of Hagood's Brigade of Hoke's Division of the Army of the Tennessee.

March 19-21, they fought at the Battle of Bentonville and surrendered with General Johnston on April 26, 1865.

Not the better Known Confederate Naval Flag That Comes Under So Much Attack. --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 26, 2011

A North Carolinian Designed the Confederacy's First National Flag?-- Part 1

From the May-June Confederate Veteran Magazine. "Confederate Images: Major Oren Randolph Smith" by C.E. Avery.

It depends upon what source you believe.

Not much is known about Major Oreen Randolph's life except that he very likely was the designer of the First National Flag of the Confederacy. It is known that he was born in Warren County, NC, on December 18, 1827.

When the Confederate States of America was formed, a committee was formed which requested submissions for the new flag. The design chosen by the committee was claimed by two men, Smith and a Prussian artist living in Montgomery, Alabama.

The controversy over the designer remained for years after the war until the United Confederate veterans themselves accepted Smith's claim.

The flag, referred to as the Stars and Bars, first flew over Smith's hometown of Louisburg, NC, in March 1861, before the state's secession.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Garrett J. Pendergrast, USN

From Wikipedia.

From Dec. 5, 1802. Died November 7, 1862. One of the oldest officers in the Union Navy during the war.

He was a flag officer on the USS Cumberland during the action at Gloucester Point and it was under his orders that Lt. Thomas O. Selfridge reconnoitered the Confederate defenses. He was the uncle of Austin Pendergrast, the hapless commander of the USS Water Witch when it was captured.

During the Mexican War, Pendergrast commanded the USS Boston He was also the commanding officer of the USS Merrimack (which later became the ironclad CSS Virginia) when it was commissioned.

Starting April 24th, the Cumberland and supporting ships began seizing Confederate ships and privateers off Fort Monroe in the Chesapeake Bay, capturing 16. The first major blockade operation of the war.

When the Cumberland was sunk by the CSS Virginia, Pendergrast was no longer the ship's commander.

In July, 1862, Pendergrast became a commodore and was assigned to the command of the Philadelphia Naval Yard where he died November 7, 1862, of a paralytic stroke.

He is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. Find-A-Grave shows a large obelisk with an anchor on it. It also says that Austin Pendergrast is buried at the same spot and that Garrett was his father.

I had Never Heard of Him. --Old B-Runner

Friday, September 23, 2011

Battle of Gloucester Point

As usual, I find out about something I don't know, that will cause more research on the subject. And, more time.

From Wikipedia.

The battle in the last entry took place May 7, 1861, and no casualties were reported. Flag officer Garrett J. Pendergrast, the uncle of Austin Pendergrast, who surrendered the USS Congress to the CSS Virginia and later lost the USS Water Witch to a Confederate boarding party, for which he was severely reprimanded, ordered Lt. Selfridge to investigate the reports of Confederate guns at the point.

After the battle, Selfridge reported that all but two of the Confederate shells fired at the USS Yankee fell short. He believed the Confederates had "long 32s and an 8-inch shell gun." Actually, the southerners just had smaller six-pounder cannons.

However, a rush was made to fortify the point and by May 11th, two 9-inch guns were in place and two more were ready. By June 14th, the battery mounted 14 heavy guns.

Chance Lost for the Federals. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 22, 2011

First Shots in Anger: Action at Gloucester Point, Va. 1861

From the April 29th Daily Press.

Three weeks after Virginia seceded, the Confederate government became alarmed at the increasingly aggressive patrols by Union gunboats and ordered a company of the Richmond Howitzers to man colonial-era earthworks at Gloucester Point.

They had been in place only a few hours when they fired on the USS Yankee, the first shots fired in defense of Virginia.

It is not sure who started the fight.

Union Lt. Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr., fired the Union's first shots in Virginia. Later, he also served aboard the first ship sunk by an ironclad ship, first Union submarine and first US warship to be sunk by a torpedo (mine). He had a very interesting war record, worth checking out.

Reports have the Confederates initiating the fight when Selfridge steamed to within 2000 yards from shore. Others say Selfridge started it.

The USS Yankee was a 148-foot long tug mointing two 32-pdr. guns.

After the action, the Confederates began building forts by the shore.

Nearby Fort Monroe gave the Union anchorage for the fleet and a path to Richmond. Plus, the defense of Norfolk and the Gosport Navy Yard was so important that famed railroad engineer Major Walter Gwynn, who designed and constructed the Charleston batteries vs. Fort Sumter, came to the area.

Build Them Forts. --Old B-Runner

How Did They Figure Out How Many Died?-- Part 2

Postwar counts of Union and Confederate dead was often based on regimental muster-outs, rolls and battle reports.

The 1866 report of Provost Marshal General James B. Fry estimated 276,689 Union dead. This number was increased to 360,222 by the late 19th century. Much of this came about because of widows and orphans bringing forward information applying for pension and survivor benefits.

The count of Confederate dead was even more difficult because of the destruction of records at war's end. Fry estimated 133,821.

Francis Amesa Walker's 1870 census pit the nation's population at 38,558,371, a 22.6% increase over 1860. That was a big increase, but every census prior to 1860 had shown a 32.7% to 36.4%. If the drop is applied to the Civil War, that would account for the increase in deaths.

The article is much longer and worth reading.

I have written about how the state of North Carolina, which has long claimed that more of its soldiers died in the war than any other Southern state is doing a recount of its dead and lowering the number. Plus, there was the black man at a Union prison who kept careful records on the deaths of Confederate prisoners.

A Subject of Interest. --Old B-R'er

How Did They Figure Out How Many Died?-- Part 1

Thanks to the Civil War Interactive site for alerting me to this article from the Sept. 20th New York Times Opinionator "recounting the Dead" by J. David Hacker.

Civil War history has gone through several revisions, but since 1900, the number of dead has remained fixed at 618,222 on both sides. This is probably a significant undercount.

New estimates based on the 1870 census figure the number at 750,000 and possibly as high as 850,000.


Efforts to identify, rebury and count the dead began as soon as the war ended, but a precise count is impossible. Both armies lacked a systematic procedure to identify the dead, wounded and missing in action. There was also no official way to notify relatives. Some families inferred their loved ones were dead only when they failed to return home after the war.

Men went missing. Battle, hospital and prison reports were incomplete. Dead men were buried unidentified, especially enemy ones on a captured battlefield.

How Many? --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Occupied Beaufort, North Carolina

Thanks to Civil War Interactive Blue-Gray Daily site for alerting me to this story.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Beaufort is opening a new exhibit this coming Saturday, September 24th, called "Watched by Sound and Sea: Occupied Beaufort, 1862."

It will include artifacts and hands-on features. The unfortunate town was occupied by Union troops for the rest of the war.

There will be a lecture by Judson Browning, author of the The Southern Mind Under Union Rule: The Diary of James Runding, Beaufort, NC 1862-1865.

The following month, Chris Meekins of the North Carolina State Archives will present a talk on "North Carolina Unionists" about a resident of Elizabeth City who was forced to pick sides during the war and what happened as a result.

Sounds Like Interesting Talks and Exhibvit. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fort Fisher Flag Returns to Wilmington

From Sept. 19th WWAY 3 News ABC, Wilmington, NC.

A Second National Confederate flag that flew over Fort Fisher arrived back in Wilmington at the Cape Fear Museum this morning after conservation work.

It was made by Wilmington women and probably taken by a Union soldier as a souvenir after the fort's fall in 1865. It was found in 1932 in the home of a private collector who donated it to the City of Wilmington.

According to Cape Fear Museum curator Barbara Rowe, "A local Wilmingtonian was the one who found it and encouraged the owner to donate it back to the City of Wilmington so it came back to us in 1934. So, that's why it is so important, because it is definitely a part of our region's history."

FROM the September 19th WECT 6 NBC.

The flag is 11-feet-wide and will go on display sometime in 2012 alongside a 34-star US flag, also 11-feet-wide, that was at a meeting in Wilmington where secession was discussed.

Good to Have It Back. --Old B-R'er

Some More Fort Monroe News

"Army leaves Chesapeake's historic Fort Monroe" from Sept. 15th CBS News.

The deactivation ceremony for the fort was held September 15th, ending nearly 200 years of military presence at the post.

The fort was the home of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command. Most of its last garrison will be transferred to nearby Fort Eustis.

Full transfer to the State of Virginia will not be complete until 2012. The state has already opened the fort and beaches to the public.

From the Sept. 20th WAVY TV 10

CASEMATE MUSEUM at Fort Monroe is still open and will be every day from 10:30 am except holidays, this according to an agreement between the Army and the Fort Monroe Authority.

The museum opened in 1951 and has exhibits on the Civil War contraband slave decision, the Battle of the Ironclads, history of the fort and of the Coast Artillery Corps. Admission is free. The cell occupied by Confederate President Jefferson Davis after the war is also part of the museum.

Glad to have the Fort as a Museum. --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shuck 'N Shag at the Fort-- Part 2

The famous Beach Music group Bill deal's Original Rhondells will be providing the tunes for the September 22nd event which runs from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.

It is a Kiwanis fundraiser and tickets cost a $35 donation.

beer and wine will be provided and a fantastic seafood buffet provided by the Virginia Seafood Connection with crab cakes, fried fish, sauteed scallops, raw and fried oysters (hence the "shuck" part), steamed clams and bbq chicken sandwiches.

An attempt will be made to set a new record for shagging couples (again, we're not talking the English shag, but Shag the dance). The current record stands at 281 couples dancing at one time. Shag lessons will also be provided for those who want to learn.

Sounds like a great time for a great cause. Too bad its so far away by the Virginia coast.

Again, Beer, Seafood, Beach Music, History and Good Cause. Good Deal. --Old B-Runner

Shuck 'N Shag at the Fort-- Part 1

Compiled from the Sept. 19th PilotOnline, Sept. 14 Daily Press, the Sept. 17th LA Times and the event website.

September 22nd, the first civilian music effort at Fort Monroe will take place and will include lots of seafood, beer and Beach Music. That's what folks in the South dance the Shag to, not the English shag.

Over the past years, the Army has sponsored many music events at the old 1800s fort, also called Fortress Monroe. But, last week, the installation was turned over to the State of Virginia. There is currently a movement to turn the fort into a National Park.

The first African slaves landed at the site (before the fort was built, and this is where Union General Benjamin Butler took a first step toward slave emancipation when he refused to return runaway slaves coming into his lines to their owners, declaring them contraband of war. Abraham Lincoln visited the fort. Robert E. Lee was garrisoned there and, after the war, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was held at the post.

History, Seafood and Beach Music. Hard Combination to Beat. --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago

From the US Navy Civil War Chronology.

SEPTEMBER 16, 1861

The Ironclad Board reported to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles: "For river and harbor service we consider ironclad vessels of light draught, or floating batteries this shielded, as very important...Armored ships or batteries may be employed advantageously to pass fortifications on land for ulterior objects of attack, to run a blockade, or to reduce temporary batteries on the shores of rivers and the approaches to our harbors."

They recommended the construction of three ironclads: The New Ironsides, Monitor and Galena.

These ships and the ones that followed completely revolutionized naval warfare.


Landing parties from the USS Pawnee destroyed guns and fortifications on Beacon Island, this closing Ocracoke Inlet. Hatteras Inlet had been closed in August. This deprived blockade runners of an important access to land and gave he Union an important foothold in North Carolina.


Confederates evacuated Ship Island, Mississippi, and a landing party from the USS Massachusetts took possession, giving the Union an important staging area and base for operations along the Gulf Coast.

Thus, these two days were very important in the overall Union war effort. The taking of the NC inlets and Ship island are little-known today, but important nonetheless.

Of the three first ironclads, only the Galena proved to be ineffective.

Important Events. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Civil War Days in Lake Villa

Twice a year, we have Civil War Days in my little part of the country. In July there is one in Wauconda at the Forest Preserve and Discovery Museum. Then in September, we have one in Lake Villa at the Lehman Mansion (founder of the Fair Department Stores).

My camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has a booth at both and I help man it as well as get around to talk to re-enactors. I really need to stay out of the sutler stores as I don't really need to buy more stuff.

Big thanks to Mark Woolfington, our camp commander to alerting me to this even earlier this week.

Maybe we will be able to pick up two or three new local members and be able to start a new camp here in Lake and McHenry counties.

Getting My Civil War On. --Old B-Runner

Friday, September 16, 2011

Why It Takes Me So Long to Go Between Point A and Point B

OK, the previous post was sort of short, but this morning I spent close to two hours doing more research before posting it. This happens a whole lot.

Doing a search for Col. Fisher, for whom Fort Fisher was named, I came across the fact that of six North Carolina regiments present at the first Battle of Manassas, the 6th was the only one to see action.

I then came across Camp 813 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Burlington, NC, which is named after him. That took some time.

Then, there was a Camp Fisher in Virginia named after him. This is where the 6th NC spent Sept. 1861 to March 1862 while participating in the Blockade of the Potomac (something I had never heard of). Well, this took some time and then I had to look up the blockade as well.

Then, there were people who went to the camp site and did some digging, finding some very rare 6th NC belt buckles. Two Mississippi regiments also named their camp after Fisher later.

And, then there is a 6th NCST Reactivated group.

The 6th evidently was part of W.H.C. Whiting's division during the blockade. Of course, he was later in command of the Wilmington District and had much to do with Fort Fisher's construction.

This led to research on him.

No Wonder It Takes So Long to Write These Goldurned Blog Entries. --Old B-R'er

Fort Fisher Receives Its Name

From the September 13th Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then" column.

SEPTEMBER 13, 1861-- The defenses under construction at Confederate Point officially named Fort Fisher in honor of Col. Charles F. Fisher of the 6th NCST.

He was born in 1816 in Salisbury, Rowan County and worked as a farmer, miner, journalist and state senator before becoming the president of the North Carolina Railroad in 1855.

After North Carolina seceded from the Union, he was elected colonel of the 6th NC State Troops and died while leading his men at Manassas, July 21, 1861.

This was taken from a Wilmington newspaper from the time.

An Honor for the Big Sand Fort (Not So Big at This Time, Though). --Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Atlanta's Grant Park Cyclorama

From the August 25th NBC Alive.

Since 1922, the 360 degree painting of the Battle of Atlanta, once the world's largest painting has been on display at Atlanta's Grant Park. The 42 foot high, 358 foot long painting suffers from neglect, deterioration and few persons visiting it. Its neighborhood is not the best.

There is talk of moving it to Buckhead, the Atlanta Historical center or some site in Downtown Atlanta.

In the 1890s, it traveled with a circus where it was rolled up on telephone poles for travel. The circus went bankrupt and Atlanta ended up with it.

In 1939, Clark Gable was in town for the premier of "Gone With the Wind" and toured it. He remarked, "The painting is great, the only thing that would make it better is if I were in it."

Gable was put on display later that year. He has been lying on his back, mortally wounded, ever since then.

The Ghost of Clark to the Rescue? --Old B-R'er

Running the Blockade: Sure Getting Tired of This-- Lee's Tintype

Some New News About an Old War.

1. SURE GETTING TIRED OF THIS-- September 14th Channel 48 News. Lawrence County High School in northern Alabama suspended three students for flying a Confederate flag pit of a truck at the Homecoming Parade.

The mother of one is taking the school board to court. Good for her.

This anti-Confederate phobia is getting way out of hand. I can understand in the north, but this happening in the south is not acceptable. If you don't like the flag, look away, swear, or jeer, but don't tell me I can't honor my ancestors.

2. LEE'S TINTYPE-- Art Daily.Org. An original tintype of General lee turned into Goodwill Industries was spotted by a person going through a bin on its way to an outlet store where it would have gone for $2 to $3. At a charity online auction, it went for $23,000.

Nice Spot. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is the Cat or Isn't the Cat in the Monitor Cannon?

I guess we will be finding out whether the account of the USS Monitor's sinking which mentioned that the ship's cat was placed in one of the two cannons' muzzles as the ship was sinking, will be soon found out to be true or false.

The cat was evidently doing what cats do when water comes near and was considered to be too dangerous to try to carry (all those claws and teeth). One sailor grabbed the feline, shoved it into the muzzle of the cannon and placed the cap over the end.

According to the Naval Sesquicentennial blog, we should soon know the truth of the story. We'll know if cat bones are found in it.

I'm Hoping It's a True Story. --Old B-R'er

Springfield GAR Museum Worth the Visit

This poor little museum, one room, doesn't get a lot of visitors, but is well worth the time to stop. Located a few blocks south of the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois, admission is free but donations really needed.

GAR stands for the Grand Army of the Republic which was an organization formed by Union veterans after the Civil War.

It houses all sorts of items donated by various Springfield area Union veterans and their prized possession is the US flag hanging from Lincoln's box at Ford's Theater at the time of the assassination. This is the flag that John Wilkes Booth got his spur tangled in on his jump to the stage that caused him to break his foot.

You can see the tear in the flag as well as some blood from Major Rathbone who grappled with Booth before he jumped. Booth stabbed him.

This flag alone is worth going to the place.

Of interest, the World War II veteran who was tending the place when I was there was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I thought that was pretty good that an SCV member would be watching over a GAR museum.

I Guess Some Civil War Wounds Have Healed. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Going to a Yankee Museum?

The last time we were in Springfield was for the annual Sons of Confederate Veterans Illinois Division meeting. This is the one where we caught the ire of a National Park Service employee when we adjourned for a group picture in from of Mr. Lincoln's home, complete with Confederate flags and a rousing rendition of "Dixie."

Today, I hope to get over to a "Yankee" museum, The Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Museum, a little south of the Licoln home, and tour it if it is open.

It is small, but located in a free-standing building.

The blurb about it in the Springfield tourism magazine reads:

"Paying tribute to the Civil War veterans in the Grand Army, this museum is full of many historically significant military items. Included within the extensive collection donated by veterans and relatives are original tintypes (photos) by Civil War photgrapher Matthew Brady."

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was an organization of Union veterans formed after the war. Union officers belonged to the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS).

Maybe I Won't Tell 'Em I'm a Good Old Rebel. --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 12, 2011

Civil War on Route 66? You Betcha

We just completed the 22nd annual Route 66 Association of Missouri Motor Tour from Miami, Oklahoma, to just east of Cuba, Missouri,yesterday.

One of the organizers, Kip Welborn, had told me two years ago that he was planning to incorporate Civil War happenings along the way in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the war.

He did a good job. I hope to organize a Civil War Route 66 Motor Tour for Illinois, but that one won't have any actual action. But several Medal of Honor winners are buried along the road as well as various Union monuments, local regiments, a female who served as a soldier during the war and postwar activities.

I'll go into greater detail on the places we went on the tour later, but for right now, here is a quick list.

BAXTER SPRINGS, KANSAS-- Union Fort Blair, site of a massacre of black troops.

BATTLE OF CARTHAGE-- Carthage, Illinois (with the Petticoat Flag and Confederate Money Hanging. There was even a Civil War museum in Carthage.

BATTLE OF SPRINGFIELD-- Let's call this the battle we couldn't find.


Plenty of Civil War on Missouri's (and Kansas') Route 66. --Old B-Runner

9-11, Ten Years Later

Just about every where we went yesterday, people were asking each other where they were ten years ago when they found out about the horrific events unfolding that day.

This was my second of the Big Three of the past 70 years. The other one I remember being President Kennedy's Assassination. I wasn't born when Pearl Harbor took place.

Others that rank up there in the "Where Were You" category were the Challenger Explosion and Man on the Moon.

For what we observed yesterday, see today's blog on my Down Da Road I Go blog at, or my RoadLog at

Not Forgetting.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Observing 9-11

We're here in Lebanon, Missouri, and people are talking about where they were this date ten years ago.

Like the firing on Fort Sumter, over 150 years ago, this event was one of those where were you when you found out ones.

Not Forgetting. Won't Forget.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lebanon in the Civil War

Yesterday, we went to the Route 66 Museum in Lebanon, Missouri, which boasts a small, but well-stocked library of books pertaining to Route 66, the Lincoln Highway and other historical roads in the US.

I found one book written by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) regarding Missouri in the 1930s.

Looking up Lebanon, it said that the town became strategically important during the war to both sides because of its location on what was called the Military Road, a dirt road that connected St. Louis and Springfield in Missouri. I believe I have also seen it referred to as the Telegraph Road because of the wires stretched along it.

This road became Route 66 some sixty-plus years later.

The book also reported that both sides occupied Lebanon at various times.

So, That's About the Road of It. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Not Much Civil War History...Yet

We're in Lebanon, Missouri, right now, but have not encountered much in the way of Civil War history.

I'm sure troops from both sides went through here at various times during the war, but no battle or skirmish was fought near here. The nearest site would be the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Springfield, Missouri.

Kip Welburn told me a few years ago that this motor tour would feature the Civil War along Missouri's stretch of Route 66. I'm hoping to get some ideas as I would like to plan an Illinois Route 66 Civil War Motor Tour during the war's sesquicentennial (finally learned how to spell the word).

Of course, there was a lot more Civil War action in Missouri than was in Illinois.

Route 66 and the Civil War. Sounds Like an Idea to Me. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

List of USS Monitor Crewmembers Who Died When It Sank

Sixteen lost their lives.


Norman Knox Attwater, Acting Ensign
Gregory Frederickson
Robinson Woolen Hands-- 2nd Assistant Engineer
Samuel Augee Lewis-- 3rd Assistant Engineer


Robert Cook-- 1st Class Boy (born Glouchester, Va.)
Robert H. Howard-- Officer's Cook (born Howard County, Va.)
Daniel Moore-- Landsman (born Prince William or Loudon, Va.)


William Allen-- Landsman (born England) 24 years old
William Bryan-- Yeoman (born NY City) 31 years old
William H. Eagan-- Landsman (born Ireland) 21 years old
James R. Fenwick-- Quarter Gunner (born Scotland) 23 years old
Thomas Joyce (or Joice)-- 1st Class Fireman (born Ireland) age 23
George Littlefield-- Coal Heaver (born Saco, Maine) age 25
Jacob Nicklis (Nickles)-- Seaman (born Buffalo? NY) age 21
John Stocking-- Boatswain's Mate (born Binghampton, NY) age 27
Robert Williams-- 1st Class Fireman (born Wales) age 30

Interesting to see where these men were born, Quite a few born overseas. The blacks were all born in Virginia and might likely have been ex-slaves.

I Wonder Who Monitor 1 and Monitor 2 Are? --Old B-R'er

Fort Fisher, Mars Bluff Navy Yard and the CSS Pee Dee

From the April 12, 2011 SC Now "Museum owner recalls discovering Civil War ship" by Mason Snyder. An interesting video accompanies the article.

This article combines three items that have been heavily covered on this blog, Fort Fisher, the Navy Yard and the CSS Pee Dee.

Ted Gragg grew up by Fort Fisher (lucky dog), only two houses away and pretty much had the fort to himself much of the time. He became interested in the Civil War and his boyhood hobby became his life-long interest and led to a job in archaeology. (Sounds a lot like me, only he got to live by Fort Fisher. I've always been way far away.)

He spent 17 years looking for the CSS Pee Dee, a Macon-class Confederate gunboat launched at Mars Bluff Navy Uard on the Great Pee Dee River in Marion County.

It was destroyed near the end of the war. In 1992, Gragg and a team found the remains and located many artifacts which led to his opening his museum to display them.

See them at the South Carolina Civil War Museum at 4857 US-17 Bypass, Myrtle Beach, SC, open 9 am to 8 pm Mon-Sat, admission for adults $4.

Looks like I'll have a place to go next time I'm doing my Beach Music Thing there.

Living the Good Life. --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 5, 2011

Burial of Two USS Monitor Crewmembers-- Part 2

After the wreck of the USS Monitor was found, it was hoped that the whole ship could be raised, but upon examination, it was found that the ship was in such bad condition after all those years at the bottom of the ocean. Instead, important parts of the ship were raised, including the engine and the 140-ton turret, which was found upside down with the hull resting on it.

So far, work in the turret, now located at the Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virginia, has turned up buttons, buckles, leather, a wool coat and other abandoned clothing. A ring was found on Monitor 2, but there was no inscription.

No gold bullion was found, which would have been on an officer's shoulder boards (sign of rank).

The remains have been sent to the Department of Defense forensic lab in Hawaii. So far, examinations suggest that both men were white (there were three blacks among those lost).

A problem faced in the identification process is that during the Civil War, no identification was needed for enlisted personnel. Often, false names were given. Plus, enlisted men did not have to give their next of kin.

I wonder how agent Gibbs and the rest of the NCIS team would handle this case?

Here's Hoping They Find Their Identities. --Old B-R'er

Burial of Two USS Monitor Crewmembers-- Part 1

From the Civil War News May 2011, by Scott c. Boyd.

Details are being worked out for the burial of the remains of two crewmen found in the USS Monitor's turret now that it has been raised. The remains are to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery December 31, 2012, the 150th anniversary of the ship's sinking and their deaths.

These men went down with the ship in 230 feet of water, sixteen miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on its way to Port Royal. Sixteen of the 62 on board lost their lives, four officers and twelve enlisted.

At this point, the two are known as Monitor 1 and Monitor 2. Officials want the descendants of the 12 who lost their lives to be tested. If a match is found, the remains will be turned over to the family.

At present, the thinking is that the remains might be of a fireman and a coal heaver since the steam pumps were keeping the foundering ship afloat long enough for the rest of the crew to escape. They would be the last off the ship.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 3, 2011

USS Monitor's Turret Tank Drained-- Part 2

I am still not sure whether they just kept the tank drained for the two months or if they drained it and refilled it each day.

This turret was significant as it marked the first time in history that a warship could fire in any direction without turning the whole ship. Ships up until then relied on cannons in mass along the sides (broadsides) of the vessel. Any change of direction required the whole ship to move. Plus, the guns on the other side could not be made to bear on the enemy.

Even the first Confederate ironclad the Monitor fought, the CSS Virginia, relied on guns in broadside.

The turret and other parts of the Monitor (the hull was left in place as it was determined to be too fragile to attempt moving it) were raised in 2002 and immediately moved to the Mariners Museum where it was kept in the giant tank of water ever since.

Had the salt-soaked iron been allowed to dry out quickly, it would rust and disintegrate. Officials estimate that it will be another 15 years before it can be permanently dry displayed.

More to Come. --Old B-R'er

USS Monitor's Turret Tank Drained-- Part 1

From the July 19th Virginian-Pilot "USS Monitor's tank drained for public display" by Teresa Annas.

This past July and August, the tank in which the innovative turret of the famous ship had rested while destructive salt was removed was drained for some real up and personal work.

Visitors to the Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virginia can watch from a viewing platform above it, only now, they get a much better view of it since the water has been drained. (I had really hoped to get a chance to see the turret out of the water, but was unable to get there on my August trip.)

You can also view it online.

A small decorative star-shaped piece of metal was found, perhaps a kurb.

Workers in the now-drained tank said it smelled like decaying sea life in the turret, but after awhile, they barely notice the aroma.

Gary Paden is an objects handler and was gently nudging, hour-after-hour, a wrought iron stanchion from the nine-foot tall turret. (At this point, I was wondering what a stanchion was.) It turns out the stanchions rimmed the roof of the turret and held up a canvas awning for shade during the summer. (If the turret is upside-down, I wonder how they got at the stanchion.)

The stanchions need to be removed and treated separately.

(I sure would have been happy to volunteer for this job. Talk about your history!)

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Friday, September 2, 2011

Yet Another Interesting Talk I'll Miss

This one will be September 6th and 7th in Cincinnati, hear that Denny?

This one will be offered on two straight days.

It will be held at the Cincinnati Museum Center at the Union Center, which is a destination in itself, an amazing art deco train station on beautiful grounds.

Frank Moulds will present a talk on the role of the US Navy in Cincinnati during the war.

I know the city was the location where several Union ships were built, but not much beyond that.

Drat, I'll Miss That Too. --Old B-R'er

Another Talk I'd Like to Go To

This would be interesting, but alas, I'm too far away.

This talk will be for the Cape Fear Civil War Round Table in Wilmington, NC, on September 8th.

Donald M. Wilkinson, the great grandson of Captain John Wilkinson, CSN, one of the foremost blockade-runner captains of the Civil War will be giving a talk on his great grandfather.

He commanded the Robert E. lee, a blockade-runner that successfully ran the Wilmington blockade 21 times. A ship that more than paid for itself in profit.

he was also the only Confederate officer to command every type of vessel in that Navy.

He is currently writing a book on the life and times of his great-grandfather.

Surprisingly, there is no entry on Wikipedia for John Wilkinson.

This Would Have to Be Interesting. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Brunswick Civil War Round Table

This organization is fairly new, just being formed in May 2010. As of this past June, membership stood at 280 members. That is one big organization, much bigger than most round tables. And to have reached that number that fast. I sure wish our Sons of Confederate Veterans camps could do likewise here in Illinois.

It is called Brunswick probably because of the North Carolina county its in.

Meetings are held the first Tuesday of every month at Trinity United Methodist Church at 209 East Nash Street in Southport.

I was impressed that they would have a speaker of Stephen Wise's stature come to speak to them, but looking at other talks coming up, it no longer surprises me.

Jan. 11, 2012, they are having Ed Bearss speak. This is one man I sure would love to see. he is the real Mr. Civil War. (However, my wife's birthday is Jan. 10th so doubt I'll get to go.)

In April and May, two other noted Civil War scholars also speak. First, William C. Davis and then Chris Fonvielle. Fonvielle will speak on Union Naval hero William B. Cushing.

I Know Three Times I'd Really Like to Be in Southport. --Old B-Runner

CSS Oregon and CSS Arrow

I'd never heard of these two ships before so some more research was necessary. As usual, good old Wikipedia provided a nice, concise treatment.


216 feet long, 26.6 ft. beam. Mounted 1X8-inch, 1X32-pdr. and two howitzers.

Was a wooden steam gunboat built in New York City in 1846. Seized by the state of Louisiana sometime in 1861 and used as a blockade-runner for awhile, supposedly running the blockade 92 times (I find this hard to believe).

Then the Confederate Army took the ship and turned it into a gunboat. (Again, the army with a gunboat?) I'd expect it to be the Navy.

It operated in the Mississippi Sound and in July was at Ship Island (see the last entry). In September 1861, the Oregon assisted in the evacuation of Confederate troops and supplies from Ship Island.

After the fall of New Orleans in April 1862, the ship was destroyed to prevent capture by Union forces.


I couldn't find any other mention of this ship.

Some More Confederate Ships. --Old B-R'er

Confederates Take Control of Ship Island, Mississippi-- Part 2

Continuing from the August 26th entry.

On July 6, 1861, Captain Edward Higgins took command of the CSS Oregon and CSS Swain and left New Orleans looking for the USS Massachusetts. They didn't find the federal ship, but placed guns and men on Ship island including 55 CS Marines and 30 members of the 4th Louisiana.

On July 9th, the USS Massachusetts confirmed Confederate occupation of the island, counting four gin emplacements and 39 tents.

The ship, under command of Cmdr. Melancton Smith, then moved toward the island with intention of battle but found their gins were out of range but Confederate shells could hit the ship.

Shots were exchanged and the Massachusetts withdrew to Chandeleur Island.

On July 13th, the Smith returned and exchanged shots with the CSS Oregon and Arrow. The Confederate ships tried to lure the Union ship to get close to Ship Island, but he didn't take the bait.

A Little-Known Part of the War. --Old B-Runner